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“No, it’s cool, it’s not like our Ancestors Killed Them All or anything.”

A conversation about Cultural Appropriation on Reddit. 

Bonus update:

“Jeremy Lin turns ex-NBA player Kenyon Martins claims of cultural appropriation back on him in the most respectful, kindest way possible.”

Is “playing Indian” wrong?

Is there a difference between wearing Blackface and dressing up like an “Indian”? If so, what?

I say this not in an accusatory manner—I’ve been a Wonder Yearsesque 1950s boy with cowboy guns and glasses and Indian headdress with Boy Scout outfit for Halloween, before, and if I thought about it at all I likely thought I was doing some small token honor to our Native American friends, who are, to every boy, so cool.

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Five thoughtful reads with a mindful perspective:

> Three Cheers for Cultural Appropriation.

> In Defense of Cultural Appropriation.

> Artists’ Cultural Borrowing.

> What Distinguishes Cultural Exchange from Cultural Appropriation?

> Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?

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For more images and commentary worth the read, click over to the thought-provoking blog from which these were sourced.

Photo at top: Jen Mussari

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AMacDonald Mar 29, 2014 3:18am

Referring to indigenous folks as extinct (aka "we (white folks) killed them all") is both factually incorrect and a huge over simplification. There are many indigenous folks who are still alive, still struggling, still resisting. And also indigenous people are not an amorphous group. There are many nations, many cultures, many different traditions. In the same way that a dollar store head dress is a gross simplification and appropriation, this response fall in line with the same logic. Research folks who live in your geographical area. Learn the territory you are living, learning, exploiting on. Be accountable.

Rebecca Feb 20, 2013 1:44pm

Everybody shits on something. Doesn't mean that it is right or ok but sooner or later you just have to shrug it off and not be so self righteous.

integralhack Feb 19, 2013 12:08pm

I think one could make the case that as long as you aren't trying to create a caricature of a specific Native American tribe (isn't there a great deal of variation in dress depending on tribe, historical context and geographical location?) that some derivative use should be acceptable.

In the eighties, groups like Adam and the Ants (who used feathers, war paint in addition to pirate garb) were celebrated by some Native American tribes–but I think this is because they weren't trying to create a caricature but a fun cultural montage of rebelliousness.

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Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.